Welcome to August! It’s that time of year when we start to feel summer slipping away, and folks seem to be cramming in one last beach trip while simultaneously checking off items on those dreaded back-to-school lists. It’s no surprise that with the closing out of arguably the most care-free season, August is also deemed “National Make-A-Will Month.” With so much planning on the horizon, we might as well add the most important planning document to our to-do lists this month: a will.
Why should you care about a will? In short, a will is the most basic form of estate planning and is a document in which you provide instructions for how you want your affairs handled upon your death. In your will, you appoint someone trustworthy and responsible to carry out your wishes as you have written them, and notably, you also nominate a guardian for any minor children. If you’re still not convinced you need a will, look around you. You own things, and because you do, something must happen to those things when you pass away. According to Caring.com’s 2022 Wills Survey, 1 in 3 Americans living without a will assume they have too few assets to create a will. This is simply not the case. Preparing a will makes sure your assets – however many or few – go to the people and/or charities of your choosing.
Not to get morbid, but let’s talk about the elephant in the room for a moment. As an estate planning attorney, I’ve seen firsthand that creating a will when you need one is not an option. Once you need a will, you are:
- no longer competent to make decisions for yourself,
- medically incapable of making those decisions, or
Once you need a will, it’s too late. In this case, failing to plan really is planning to fail. So, while it’s exciting to learn that younger adults are taking estate planning more seriously largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, still, 2 out of 3 American adults don’t have a will and that’s a big problem.
As it turns out, most people have a very good idea of what they would do if their time ran out. But as I’ve shared with many clients over the years, having your will in your head is not useful if you are no longer here or can no longer communicate it to your loved ones. Getting your plan on paper is the only way to successfully pass this information along. Truth be told, creating a will isn’t about considering your death, but rather, it’s about living your life to the fullest. At Barbur Law, we believe the best way to accomplish this is to ensure you’re living with a thoughtful plan in place. This August let’s celebrate National Make-A-Will-Month by creating (or revisiting) our wills and intentionally planning for lives well-lived.